On Moel Famau

Moel Famau (which means ‘Mothers Mountain’ in English) is the highest hill, at 1,818 feet, within the Clwydian Range of North Wales.  Moel Famau lies between Mold and Rhuthin on the border between Denbighshire and Flintshire in North Wales.

Moel Famau Country Park surrounds the hill which has been classed as an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ since 1985.  The park covers an area over 8 km² and is managed by Denbighshire Countryside Service.  The area is home to wildlife such as Red Grouse as well as the endangered Black Grouse, European Stonechat and Eurasian Curlew.  The area is surrounded by several well-preserved Iron-Age hill forts on the nearby hills.

The Forestry Commission manages the neighbouring forest as a sustainable conifer plantation for timber production and tourism.  There are many paths which cut through the Forestry Commission plantations which form an apron around its lower slopes.

We walked up the hill from Coed Moel Famau Forestry Commission car park.  Walking up through the plantations and past many areas that have been cleared which look like wastelands with tree stumps and timber cuttings strewn across the ground.

The paths are well used by walkers and mountain bikers and being a bank holiday weekend there were a lot of people out on the hill.

There are lots of streams flowing off the hill to feed the River Alyn.  Lower down the hill timber foot bridges allow you to cross them without getting your boots wet.

As we got higher we left the forest behind and walked up through the heather and heath land.  We then joined part of the northern route of the Offa’s Dyke National Trail to reach the summit.  Offa’s Dyke Path was opened in the summer of 1971 and links Sedbury Cliffs near Chepstow on the banks of the Severn estuary in South Wales with Prestatyn 177 miles away on the North Wales coast which could be seen to the North West of the summit of Moel Famau.  The trail is based on the dyke which King Offa ordered to be constructed in the 8th century to divide his Kingdom of Mercia from rival kingdoms in what is now Wales.

The summit can easily be seen as you ascend from any direction as you can see the large stone structure which has been built on the summit.  This is the Jubilee Tower which was built in 1810 to commemorate the golden jubilee of King George III. Designed by Thomas Harrison of Chester, it was to be an Egyptian styled obelisk, built in three stages. The tower was never completed.  In 1862 a strong storm blew it down. It was partially removed to make it safe and what you see today are the sturdy remains of the Tower.

Much of the North West of England and Wales can be seen from the summit of Moel Famau. This includes parts of Cheshire, Merseyside, Denbighshire and Flintshire. On clear days, the mountains of Snowdonia can be seen to the west and we could see the prominent mountains of Cader Idris and Snowdon in the haze today.

The Irish Sea could be seen to the north, and to the East Liverpool, Chester and Winter Hill on the West Pennine Moors near Blackburn and Bolton.  On good days you can see the Blackpool Tower but unfortunately not today in the haze.  We could see the west side of the Wirral peninsula in the middle distance from where we set off this morning and where we would return to following our descent.

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